Pregnancy Disability Leave Laws in California

The Golden State, home to sun, surf, majestic redwood forests, and a growing tech industry, also prides itself on its pregnancy-friendly workforce. If you’re an expecting parent, you should know that California has established pregnancy disability leave laws to protect women who need time off during or after a pregnancy. If you have questions or concerns about pregnancy disability leave laws in California, speaking with an experienced employment attorney can put your mind at ease and help ensure your employer treats you justly. At Bibiyan Law Group, P.C., our compassionate maternity leave lawyers in Los Angeles have notched years of experience handling pregnancy disability leave issues and millions in employment law settlements. We are a boutique law firm dedicated to obtaining justice and assuring a safe and fair workplace for all California employees. Contact us today!

What Are California Pregnancy Disability Leave Laws?

California defines pregnancy disability as any physical or mental condition related to pregnancy or childbirth that makes it difficult for a woman to perform her job. Under California law, eligible pregnant employees may take advantage of pregnancy disability leave (PDL) protections or accommodations under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). If a woman is eligible, unpaid PDL allows a pregnant employee up to four months of leave per pregnancy complication, which can be taken at once or intermittently. Common pregnancy-related medical conditions that qualify for PDL include, but are not limited to:

  • Incapacity due to pregnancy, childbirth, or loss of a pregnancy;
  • Time off needed for prenatal or postnatal care;
  • Severe morning sickness;
  • Doctor-ordered bed rest;
  • Gestational diabetes;
  • Preeclampsia;
  • Recovery from childbirth; and
  • Postpartum depression.

Under California’s PDL laws, an employer must also reinstate the employee to their original position or a comparable position with the same pay, benefits, and seniority upon their return to work. In other words, an employer cannot fire an employee or discriminate against them for taking pregnancy disability leave.

How Do I Know If I Am Eligible to Take Leave Under Pregnancy Disability Leave Laws in California?

To be eligible for PDL, a woman’s debilitation must be pregnancy related. The employer must also officially be subject to PDL laws. Most private businesses and all public companies that employ five or more full or part-time workers fall into this category, including private companies, non-profit organizations, and government agencies. In addition, PDL laws apply to all types of employees, including full-time, part-time, and temporary workers.

If the employer requests it, the woman’s doctor must also provide written certification stating the reasons for the leave and its likely duration. However, the healthcare provider may not disclose the underlying diagnosis without consent. Other than that, a woman need not meet any additional tenure, hourly, or eligibility requirements to take leave under PDL law.

Will Pregnancy Disability Leave Laws in California Allow Me to Take More than a Four-Month Leave?

A pregnant employee may combine California’s PDL laws with other relevant laws to extend their leave. For example, some workers may take PDL and maternity leave granted by the CFRA. Moreover, the FMLA and CFRA both have provisions that provide leave for medical conditions, including pregnancy-related disabilities and bonding time, but they have different eligibility requirements and provisions. 

California also has a Paid Family Leave (PFL) program, which provides partial wage replacement for employees who take time off to care for a seriously ill family member or to bond with a new child. A pregnant worker may use PFL benefits concurrently with pregnancy disability leave, FMLA, or CFRA leave, but the employee must meet the eligibility requirements for each program.

Workers who are disabled for more than four months may also be able to extend their leave under the FEHA’s accommodation rules or provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Disabled workers may likewise find extended coverage and leave under California’s Short-Term Disability Insurance program (SDI), including wage replacement.

Since different programs and laws have varying requirements, some of which are more stringent than others or overlap, meeting with an experienced employment law attorney in Los Angeles can be helpful. A pregnancy disability attorney understands disability laws and their complexities and nuances and can ensure you make the most of them, maximizing the time you have to bond with your child and heal.

Bibiyan Law Group Will Fight for You

If you are pregnant and believe you are eligible for pregnancy disability leave in California, inform your employer as soon as possible. If your employer denies your request or retaliates against you for taking leave, you may be able to file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). The compassionate pregnancy disability advocates at Bibiyan Law Group can help you with all this. We understand California’s pregnancy disability laws and can provide invaluable legal advice, assess your disability, assist you in filing a claim, and negotiate on your behalf. Call us today at 323-741-4479 to book a free phone consultation.

Author Photo

David Bibiyan is a distinguished attorney at Tomorrow Law, renowned for his expertise in employment law. With a strong focus on representing employees in various workplace disputes, he has become a trusted advocate for those facing discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination, and wage and hour issues. Bibiyan’s approach is characterized by a deep understanding of both state and federal employment laws, ensuring that his clients receive knowledgeable and effective representation. His commitment to justice is evident in his dedication to each case, where he meticulously works to secure the best possible outcomes for his clients. Bibiyan’s reputation is built on a foundation of successful case resolutions, marked by his skillful negotiation and, when necessary, aggressive litigation strategies. His work at Tomorrow Law reflects a genuine passion for defending workers’ rights and promoting fair employment practices.

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